Despite FORCED PERSPECTIVE, Episode 12 being recorded tomorrow night, I figured I would jump the gun a little bit and put a review up for one of the films Adolfo and I will be discussing – the Todd Phillips-produced teen party extravaganza Project X. Click the link below to start the party…
Project X REVIEW
As many of us know, high school popularity is such a fickle thing. As quickly as you rose to the top of the high school mountain, that’s how quick it could all evaporate, and vice-versa. Of course, there are also people who (for whatever reason) remain popular from the moment they stepped foot inside the school, to the moment they are handed their diplomas. Then there’s the opposite end of the spectrum – the kid who (again, for whatever reason) is ostracized and hazed their entire high school career. Myself? I was one of the sort-of weird few that wasn’t what I would call popular, but I also wasn’t unpopular – I was square in the middle. I had at least one friend in all the social circles and cliques that formed in my class. So you could say that I escaped high school relatively unscathed (and with 3 lifelong friends that I, to this day, still talk to regularly).
But, you know, I’d be lying if I said that I didn’t once think about what life would be like if I WAS “Mr. Popularity” in high school. Everyone knowing your name, all the hot girls completely into you, being respected by your teachers – the whole package. In our adult years, we realize what a silly concept this all is, but back then, what I (and many others) wouldn’t give for just one day “at the top.” Enter Project X.
To put it simply, this film is a political commentary on the ethics of animal research. Matthew Broderick plays Jimmy Garrett, a rogue pilot who stumbles upon…
(*random dude enters and whispers something in SportGuy’s ear*)
A-hem. I’m being told this is the wrong Project X. Waitaminute, the WRONG Project X? You mean there’s MORE THAN ONE???
Unreal. And who the hell is this guy???
(*random dude runs away shouting “Vote Quimby!”*)
Anyway, the plot of this Project X is…..I dunno what. I GUESS it’s about this group of friends who are trying to become “the popular guys” in their class by throwing “the greatest high school party ever.” This is meant to be a birthday party for Thomas Kub, and his best friends Costa and J.B. do their best to turn it into the party of the century. Yeah, that’s pretty much it. Oh, I should also add that this film is shot in the found-footage fashion, with a guy the characters refer to as “Dax” filming the majority of the scenes as a “birthday video” for Thomas.
I’m gonna start with the few positives of this film before I dive headfirst into the negatives. The best thing about Project X, without a doubt, was the soundtrack. As I’ve first mentioned in my review for Drive, I am a HUGE dance/electronica fan – something that spawned during my college partying/club hopping days. Plus, it’s also GREAT music to blast out of your speakers while driving down the highway on a Saturday night. As I would imagine, “the party of the century” had a lot of great dance tunes that I couldn’t get out of my head until I bought the soundtrack when I got home from the movie theater. If you’re as big a dance music fan as I am, or if you’re just looking for some tracks to add to your own party playlist, then the Project X soundtrack is a must-buy.
Oh, and the females in this film were very hot. Especially the topless ones. BOOBS. I’m gonna say it again. BOOBS.
Okay, now onto my (many) gripes about this film. First of all, there is NO plot to be found here. The whole “trying to throw the best party ever” setup is just that – a setup. A foundation. But throughout the other 75 minutes of Project X, you get the feeling that the filmmakers are just throwing shit on the wall and seeing what sticks. Seriously, once the party gets going, all semblance of a plot just disappears, and we’re treated to what I call “individual vignettes”. What I mean by that is this: everything that happens throughout the rest of the movie can be broken up into individual 5-10 minute short films that have (with the exception of the climax) absolutely no bearing on the film’s “plot” whatsoever. When that happens, you lose interest in what’s happening, because you know that in the end, it won’t make any sort of difference on the story. Everything that happens, happens for the sole purpose of shock value.
Secondly, the main characters come off as very unlikeable, with the possible exception of Thomas, since he appears to be the “straight man” in this debacle, while his friend Costas is the instigator of it all – he’s the “Jonah Hill” to Thomas’ “Michael Cera”. The difference is that I cared a hell of a lot more about Seth and Evan (in Superbad) than I did about Thomas and Costas.
The main reason for that involves simple storytelling. The Seth and Evan characters were given some background; we saw their dilemmas; they were given at least some amount of character depth, giving the audience something to root for and empathize with. In Project X, the audience is supposed to buy that Thomas and Costas are friends, despite Costas’ constant name-calling and insult-tossing that borders on bullying. And don’t even get me started on WHY Costas and J.B. are friends – the fact that J.B. just stands there and takes that abuse from his “friend” makes him a VERY unlikeable character, despite his somewhat good intentions. He’s the poster-boy for “BETA” (listeners to Superfriends vs. The World know what I mean by this). I couldn’t tell you any more characters that were in this film, as everyone at this party is about as nameless and faceless as the main characters themselves.
Well, there was that blonde chick that is Thomas’ “best friend” (who you just KNOW is gonna end up hooking up with him at this party). But she was on-screen for a total of about 10 minutes. And we don’t get any sort of info on who she is (other than her name, which I forgot) or why she and Thomas are friends in the first place. Then there was that other chick, the one Thomas has a crush on – but she’s on screen for LESS time than the blonde, so who gives a shit, right?
Finally, there was the matter of the comedy itself. A lot of it was hit-or-miss; like I mentioned earlier, it really seemed like the minds behind Project X simply threw everything they could think of on the wall to see what sticks. And while I did laugh at a couple of well-executed punchlines and physical gags, the majority of the time I was sitting on my hands, not laughing. This was not only because it was unfunny, but also because it was unoriginal. With the exception of the climax of the film, every sight gag/joke has been done before in previous “teen party” comedies.
And yet, there were points where I found myself having fun. I would be lying if I said I didn’t once picture myself at that party – the way it comes off on-screen (nitpicking aside) would make anybody and their mother want to be there experiencing it, so I give the filmmakers credit on that front. But what I enjoyed most about the climax of the film is not only its complete and utter absurdity, but also the fact that it was the only (I repeat, ONLY) part of the film that required you to remember something from the beginning in order for it to make sense; they kinda had to do that, because if they didn’t, it would be absurdity for the sake of absurdity, and simply fit in with what the rest of this film had to offer (Hint: it has to do with fire…but if you saw the trailer, you already knew that…)
I can see it now: the 25-and-under crowd (especially teenagers) are going to hail Project X as the greatest movie ever made (and based on YouTube comments on the trailer and some of the songs from the film, that’s exactly what they’re saying) while the 30-and-up crowd are going to completely shit all over this as crude, unfunny and juvenile (which they already have – some even calling it “the worst movie of the past 25 years”). I’m, for the most part, sitting on the fence with this one. While I agree that it would be more accurate to call Project X a pile of nothing than an actual film, it was nevertheless still, for the most part, a fun time at the movies. I mean, who wouldn’t want to attend a party like this?
I can’t guarantee that you will like this film; it really depends on your age and personal taste in movies. But the one thing that I can guarantee? This film will spawn imitators – I can see it now, teens all over are going to want to plan their own personal Project X party. And with the incredible party atmosphere created in this movie (where anything can, and will, happen), it’s hard not to blame them. Unless, you know, you’re not into that whole “having fun” fad. That’s, like, soooooo ’90s.
-The music (especially if you’re into dance/electronica)
-Great party atmosphere created
-Interesting (if not completely absurd) climax
-No semblance of plot
-Bland, unlikeable main characters
-Unfunny overall (with only a few exceptions)
-Blatant “shock value” exploitation
FINAL SCORE: ** ½ (2.5/5)
And that’ll do it. As always, any questions, comments, or feedback in general, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
As I mentioned earlier, FORCED PERSPECTIVE, Episode 12 (“The Chronicle of John Carter”) will record tomorrow night for a Friday drop on the site. While you wait for Ep.12, check out all of the other great shows here at SuperfriendsUniverse.com, including Pixels & Bits (talking Ecco the Dolphin and other wacky topics) and Superfriends vs. The World (talking the POWER of silence).
Plus, The Wide World of Sports-Entertainment will make its triumphant return to Superfriends Universe in two weeks time with Issue #31 previewing WWE WrestleMania XXVIII.
Until next time, I’m out!
Review – Project X (2012)
Cinephile extraordinaire, a budding filmmaker, and host of Forced Perspective. A resident of NY/NJ, he spends most of his time looking for new movies to watch and learning the craft of filmmaking. You’ve probably also seen him hanging around Madison Square Garden and Yankee Stadium at some point. If you see him approach your movie theater, be sure to let him in – he’s the guy in the Yankees cap!